Do Not Show Favoritism
My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, 3 if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” 4 haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)
From verses 1 to 13, James focuses on warning the believers to not fall into the temptation of showing favoritism to others. Verse 1 is James’ clear challenge and command, “do not show favoritism,” stating this to his beloved fellow believers, addressing them as “my brothers and sisters.” The only One who should be held in the highest regard and deserves it is “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” James states that Jesus Christ is the main object of a believer’s faith, and therefore, must be committed to him, holding onto Him. Also, James adds that additional descriptor “glorious,” meaning that the Lord Jesus Christ is the, as Anders states, “the full presentation of God’s presence and majesty. Jesus is the glorious God.”
Verses 2 to 4 give an illustration of favoritism. The setting is a Christian fellowship, and two guests arrive, one rich and one poor: “For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in.”
Because of their differences in appearance, unfortunately, in verse 3, the hypothetical believer shows favoritism to the rich one and demeans the poor individual, even telling them to sit on the floor: “If you look with favor on the one wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Sit here in a good place,’ and yet you say to the poor person, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘Sit here on the floor by my footstool.”
After the scenario is posed, James asks a question, with hopefully an obvious answer, in verse 4, “Haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” In the scenario, indeed, the hypothetical believer has become a judge with evil thoughts, showing favoritism to the rich over the poor.
Jesus died so that everyone can come to the saving knowledge of Him, regardless of rich and poor, old and young, male and female, Jew or Gentile, etc. Therefore, as believers, may we not inhibit the sharing of the gospel by having prejudiced thoughts about others. We’re all sinners equally facing judgment and are in need of a Savior, who by His grace and mercy, died for ALL.
Isaac De Guzman